You might not have heard about recent happenings at the Sacramento Kings camp involving Point Guard Ty Lawson in the wake of missing the team’s flight and practice. You shouldn’t feel bad about missing out on all that action. Honestly, how you can feel bad about missing out on the fun when the Kings are involved.
Even with a shiny new arena-Golden 1-that cost over $500 million to build, Sacramento lies in the abyss of the NBA hierarchy. Much of the championship talk is dominated by Cleveland Cavaliers and the insanely improved Golden State Warriors.
San Antonio Spurs minus Tim Duncan, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers fall into second tier or contender’s conversation. Even the woeful Philadelphia Sixers get more buzz as the loss of Ben Simmons mirrors the return of Joel Embiid to the court two seasons after he was drafted number three overall, has fans on edge.
The NBA is famously a player driven league with dominant stars stoking the fire behind off the court ventures including team promotions and merchandise sales. But the Kings have All-Star DeMarcus Cousins yet they barely figure in league matters. One can easily finger a ten year playoff drought as the main reason behind the team’s anonymity which in all fairness looks primed for an extension this season.
But there is more to this than statistics. It is the treacherous revolving door of management personnel that has crippled this once proud and successful team. A bit of that came up prior to the week-in case you missed it- when new owner Vivek Ranadive apologized for slight comments aimed at former General Manager Geoff Petrie. Management’s decision to fire Michael Malone still remains a mystery. Even in good times-new arena, $5 million dollar sponsorship from Blue Diamond- the Kings find a way to mess it up. Back to Lawson. Management’s decision to let Lawson off the hook after footages emerged of the pint sized Guard partying Las Vegas the night before the team’s flight is weird and could easily turn out to be the start of yet another tumultuous season.
Lawson’s career was destined to soar higher as he entered his prime but a series of alcohol induced incidents skewed his promising career from that of a prominent franchise leader at the Denver Nuggets to a Guard who struggled to find a home prior to the Kings call up. Playing for Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers last season never quite worked out and he found himself jobless after the Pacers released him. Sacramento picked him up on a non guaranteed contract to replace first option at the Point position Darren Collison for the start of the season after the latter’s misconduct in the offseason got him slapped with an eight game suspension. Lawson figures to be first choice replacement ahead of Garrett Temple, Jordan Farmar and Isaiah Cousins but the laissez-faire attitude of management toward players has turned out badly for the side in the past.
After nabbing David Joeger as head coach, retaining pieces Rudy Gay, adding new pieces in Arron Aflalo and Matt Barnes, DeMarcus winning a Gold medal at the Rio Olympics on the back of surpassing 30 wins for the first time since 2008 last season, things seemed to have fallen in place for the side. But Lawson has been spared the rod. A guy earning $1.5 million which isn’t even guaranteed gets pampered by the top brass and before you know, All-Star Cousins-as he has done on so many occasions in the past-will do same then Gay, then Barnes and the list continues. Sacked trainer George Karl felt the full force of this indifferent attitude last season when Cousins was left off the hook despite yelling at Karl.
The experienced Karl who is in the top five category for the most career wins in the NBA, and had a winning record at his former stops in Seattle, Denver and Milwaukee, had this to say after his firing in an interview with sacbee.com. “I’m old school enough to think that a coach has to feel powerful, has to feel supported, and I never felt that level of support. And this is what franchise facial Cousins had to say in the course of the season after returning from a one game suspension per slamonline.com. “That wasn’t no suspension from the organization,” said Cousins, “that was a suspension from the head coach, there’s a difference.” And the difference is in the pudding as the saying goes, because Karl won wherever he went except Sacramento.
In three seasons at the helm of Memphis Grizzlies, Joerger led the side to post winning records and make it to the playoffs and hiring him is a great coup by Sacramento and a great start but a change in attitude can halt the team from turning to its bad ways.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah